Minnesota had to deal with anti-rail extremist Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty while Wisconsin’s governor Jim Doyle was trying to continue moderate Republican governor Tommy Thompson’s vision of a modern high-speed rail system in the past years.
Now the roles and perceptions have switched. Minnesota governor-elect Mark Dayton wants to sensibly have a high speed rail system connecting to Chicago through Wisconsin or through Iowa into Illinois while Wisconsin governor-elect Scott Walker wants to play Pawlenty’s card by ignoring thousands of jobs and infrastructure improvements to placate the highway and road lobbyists who have bought him out.
In many ways, the recent election means a role reversal for the neighboring states. Under Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, Wisconsin took the lead while Minnesota’s GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty was the laggard. The election of Republican Walker in Wisconsin and Democrat Mark Dayton in Minnesota will most likely invert that political equation.
Despite the setback, there could be an opportunity for Minnesota to have increased influence on the eventual route. If so, every effort should be made to route trains through Rochester. The Mayo Clinic is an economic locomotive in its own right, and a growing bioscience corridor between the Twin Cities and Rochester could be the incubator for world-class research (and the good jobs that go with it). Already, patients and professionals arrive at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on the way to Mayo. Losing a link to Rochester — and routing a train through less economically dynamic Eau Claire instead — would have an opportunity cost that would last for generations.
“Wisconsin can be avoided.” What a great billboard sign for Minnesota to display when it comes to 21st century business opportunities, such as biotech and even construction jobs to build rail systems. And it literally is true when the rail line goes from Minneapolis to Dubuque, Iowa and through Illinois.
Walker wants Wisconsinites to give up on the thousands of jobs and infrastructure improvements that the $810 million would have created. You have to give Walker credit that no jobs would be created from the Obama Stimulus, especially when he turns the 11,000+ jobs that would have been created that he threw away. No jobs will be created if you reject the ones that were essentially handed to you in wrapping better than a brown paper bag. Because of Walker’s cross-eyed vision, Wisconsin taxpayers should expect to pay over $100 million for absolutely nothing.
Meanwhile, Minnesota is still viable as a state that sees how the future includes high speed rail. They like jobs and don’t like paying taxes for some politician’s childish, short-sighted pouting and political pandering and get nothing in return.